The Stranglers finally get to play the beautiful Cambridge Corn Exchange on their Final Full UK tour – two years after it was announced.
The Stranglers, Ruts DC
Cambridge Corn Exchange, 26th February 2022
Words: Robert Adams
Photography: Steve Ritchie
This gig has been a long time coming, and a lot has happened in The Stranglers camp since the tour was announced back in 2019. We’ve had the Covid-19 pandemic, which tragically took the life of The Stranglers iconic keyboard player Dave Greenfield on 3rd May 2020. This hit the band and its legions of fans hard.
Their Dark Matters album release was put back while The Stranglers took time to grieve and come to terms with Dave’s passing. A poignant tribute to Greenfield was added to the Dark Matters album in And If You Should See Dave, and the album and tour were dedicated to his memory.
The Ruts DC kick off proceedings at 7:45 sharp with a rousing Something That I Said before ploughing headfirst into SUS. Don’t let their ages fool you for a second. Segs, Ruffy and Leigh are a truly formidable force to be reckoned with. Tighter than a Scotsman’s wallet (don’t worry, i am Scottish, therefore qualified to say that), Jah War, Staring At The Rude Boys, In A Rut, and obligatory Babylon’s Burning made sure that the crowd were more than warmed up for The Stranglers.
The house lights went out, and The Stranglers opening Waltzinblack came drifting out the PA as the band walked onstage to a heroes welcome. Then it’s straight into Toiler On The Sea with Something Better Change, Sometimes, Skin Deep and This Song following in rapid succession.
The Stranglers mean business and sound majestic. JJ Burnel has an instantly recognisable bass tone, and it’s a thing of aural beauty as he stalked the stage, even breaking into a smile every now and then.
Baz Warne finally said “good evening” to the Cambridge crowd and introduced Toby Hounsham, “the man with the biggest balls in rock,” to the faithful. Toby is playing keyboards in place of the dearly departed Dave Greenfield. It’s a massive pair of shoes to fill, but Hounsham did Dave’s memory proud by pulling off a virtuoso performance.
Since this was The Stranglers Final Full UK tour, the hits come thick and fast. Nice ‘n’ Sleazy is exactly that, Don’t Bring Harry slows down proceedings before we get the glorious guitar pop of Strange Little Girl and the sublime Always The Sun and the “nudge nudge, wink wink” of Peaches.
Then it’s time for “that song!” – bloody Golden Brown. Personally, I detest this one. Don’t get me wrong, it’s played beautifully tonight, and I love that it’s in waltz time. It’s just been played to death on the radio. Yes, that’s right – reviewer moans at the band playing their most successful single shocker.
Dark Matters’ wonderful The Last Man On The Moon gets us back on track with Warne playing a beautiful red Burns guitar instead of his trusty worn black Telecaster.
We also get treated to the full seven minute plus cover of Burt Bacharach’s Walk On By, which features a stunning instrumental jam in the middle with Warne and Hounsham trading licks.
The first encore saw Burnel and Warne on stools, and we were treated to an acoustic version of The Lines from Dark Matters. Then after a beautiful speech from Burnel about his brother, Dave Greenfield, the duo played And If You Should See Dave in his memory. After Burnel sings, “This is where your solo would go”, a spotlight picks out the keyboards, and the crowd applauds in respect to their fallen hero. It’s a very emotional moment, to say the least.
The stools are taken away and the full band return for a thunderous version of Tank, and the evening closes with No More Heroes.
Warne thanked the crowd and told us that the Cambridge Corn Exchange was a venue that was very close to Dave Greenfield’s heart, and he always loved playing here.
After this performance, you could feel him smiling down on his bandmates and the wonderful Cambridge crowd.